Skating 2020-01-20 071
Local News

Skaterdays brings Flossmoor’s ice-loving past back to life

Flossmoor Park skating rinks will host Skaterdays, a new series of winter festivals on Saturdays, Jan. 25 through Feb. 15.

Skaterdays is a new series of winter festivals in Flossmoor Park on Saturdays, Jan. 25 through Feb. 15. 

  Josh Klein of Homewood holds
  his daughter Lila while he
  helps daughter Hazel get her
  feet on the new skating rink
  in Flossmoor Park on Monday.
 (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

The project was conceived and will be operated by Flossmoor's Future in partnership with the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District, but the idea was born of nostalgia for a bit of Flossmoor's past.

Tom Dobrez, one of the founders of the organization, remembers when Flossmoor Park, on Flossmoor Road east of the Metra tracks, was a destination during the winter. The area was flooded for an ice rink that was used almost daily by kids to skate for fun, play hockey and practice figure skating. 

  Georgia Reinholdt, 5, and her
  sister, Eleanor, 9, of Oak Park,
  are among the first skaters
  to try out the new rinks in
  Flossmoor Park on Monday.
  The girls were visiting their
  grandmother, Lori Lewis, who
  lives near the park.
  (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

Once or twice a year, the park would host big events centered around skating. 

"Those events really stuck in my mind," he said. 

In recent years, however, skating opportunities have been fewer. The park district improved drainage in the area, which meant ice didn't last as long. The climate is generally warmer, making conditions for ice less likely. 

The park district had been planning for several years to build rinks in the park. When the district held a "Shark Tank" competition last March.The competition was patterned after the popular reality TV show that invites budding entrepreneurs to pitch their business ideas to successful business people. The district used the format to invite residents to share ideas.
Dobrez pitched the idea of resurrecting the park as a skating destination, which fit well with the plans that were in place.

The $14,000 ice rink project was selected for funding. 

Dobrez said the money paid for two frames, which park district officials expect to last at least 10 years, and rink liners that last three to five years. By retaining the water, the liners help create useable ice faster and will help it last longer, he said.

Park district officials said the new rinks will increase opportunities for residents to enjoy skating all winter. 

The new system should save on water costs, too, because water will not be lost to drainage, Dobrez said. Research by Doug Boehm, superintendent of parks and planning, indicated the savings in water costs and labor would cover the investment in two to three years.

Now that the rinks are in place, Flossmoor's Future will attempt to recreate the sense of community centered around skating with the Skaterdays series of themed events.

  • Jan. 25 — Woodstock Jam, dress in your best hippie garb. 
  • Feb. 1 — Disney's Frozen, vie to be the best Elsa or Olaf character from the Disney movie franchise. 
  • Feb. 8 — Winter Olympics, featuring Olympics-type races.
  • Feb. 15 — Sweetheart Skate, in honor of Valentine's Day.
Each event will begin with a skate swap sponsored by HF Youth Hockey. Dobrez said hockey parents know well that kids outgrow skates, so the swap is an opportunity to get more use out of skates by trading with other families.

There will be open skating from 6 to 7 p.m.; organized games, contests and other activities from 7 to 8 p.m.; open skating from 8 to 9 p.m.; and pond hockey league games from 9 to 10 p.m.

Dobrez said skateable ice is likely, but he acknowledged that Skaterdays organizers had to be realistic, too, and have plans to hold the events even if the weather doesn't cooperate. 

If the rinks become ponds, the skate exchange will still occur and activities will be adjusted accordingly. The hours will probably be from 5 to 7 p.m.

The events will be free, in part because local businesses, including Kluger Furs and Baird & Warner Real Estate, have stepped up to help with expenses, Dobrez said. 

Related story:
Outdoor skating glides into Flossmoor Park with two new rinks (Jan. 8, 2020)

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